Top 10 Patterns from Toho - Major League Fishing

Top 10 Patterns from Toho

Shell beds, spawning bass and current flow produced the bulk of the top 10 catches
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Quaker State pro Scott Canterbury caught the biggest limit of day four after making a surprise run into Tiger Lake. Here he tussles with a bass as the dock's owners look on. Photo by Kyle Wood. Angler: Scott Canterbury.
March 10, 2015 • Rob Newell • Archives

At the halfway point of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho on Friday afternoon, it looked as if the event would be a JT Kenney runaway win. Kenney’s “red-dot” bedding program appeared to be unstoppable.

But then things changed drastically: The warm-up ended, the full moon began to wane, heavy clouds took up residence over central Florida and the fairy tale of scripted plans in a multiple-day tournament came to a screeching halt.

By the end of the event, several other patterns on Lake Toho quickly closed up Kenney’s seemingly insurmountable lead (12-10 after two days and 12-8 after three). When the final weigh-in came to an end, the top three places were only separated by 1 pound, 5 ounces. Patterns that involved current, shell beds and even docks helped close the gap. Here’s a look at some of the other top 10 patterns from the week.


Hey now. Scott

2. Scott Canterbury Fishes from the Gut for Runner-Up Finish

Scott Canterbury’s performance at Toho is extremely impressive considering he really had nothing solid dialed in when the starting gun fired Thursday morning. The Quaker State pro fishes from the gut, following his instinctual whims throughout the day. His second-place finish at Lake Toho was a perfect example of this execution by Canterbury as he literally utilized every lake in the chain (including rarely fished Tiger Lake) and a multitude of techniques to come within 11 ounces of winning.

“I didn’t have a good practice, so the first day of the tournament I just buckled down in some of those traditional spawning areas in Kissimmee where there is a good sandy bottom,” says Canterbury, who weighed 75 pounds, 5 ounces in four days. “There were bucks all over the beds in those areas, and I ended up catching two big females that really helped.”

On day two, Canterbury began to experiment with different lures inside the spawning areas. Instead of dragging a worm around like he had done the day before, he started punching some adjacent mats and fishing a popping frog around the edges of the bedding sites.

“A lot of guys were fishing for fish that were actually spawning,” he says. “I figured some of the fish had to have already spawned and were hanging around those same areas. The whole time I was thinking I wanted to get away from what the fish had been doing and adjust to what they were doing that day.”

Day three was the peak of the cold front, and Canterbury again adjusted, this time fishing current at the lock.

On day four, Canterbury again took what the day gave him and ran with it.

“I started at the lock, just to get a limit,” he says. “Then I hit some current places and shell beds down along the Kissimmee River, which helped me a little. Then I just decided to fish all new water, ran into Tiger Lake and started skipping docks with a Bruiser Baits Stick Worm.”

The dock-skipping technique in Tiger is what produced Canterbury’s 8-pounder on the final day, which helped him put a major scare into Kenney.

The majority of Canterbury’s fish during the week were caught on the Bruiser Stick Worm. He fished the Bruiser in bedding areas with a 1/8-ounce weight and went to a 1/2-ounce weight when fishing current. He rigged it weightless to skip up under docks in Tiger Lake. He caught all his fish on 15-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon and Halo Twilite rods.


Wesley Strader hoists his kicker for the crowd. He finished third and gave Kenney all he could handle.

3. Lipless Crankbait on a Shell Bed Scores Big for Wesley Strader

If you could pick just one of the top 10 finishers’ spots to fish from the Lake Toho event, you would want to sample the shell bed in Lake Hatchineha that Wesley Strader tapped for 41 pounds, 12 ounces over the final two days. The big bags boosted his overall weight to 74-11.

In a period of roughly 45 minutes each of the last two mornings, Strader experienced bass fishing nirvana as he caught bass after bass on a baby bass-colored Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe lipless crankbait from a small shell-bed “island” that gets rubbed by the currents of the Kissimmee River.

“It was like being in a dream,” Strader says. “There was one little 100-foot section in there where the shell bed dropped from about 2 to 4 feet. If I hit that spot, those jokers would just fight over it. I could feel two or three knock slack in my line before a big one would inhale it. I have no idea where all those bass live the rest of the time, but for 45 minutes every morning they all meet at that dinner table and chow down.”

Strader confirmed that the shell bed is not a secret area, and that he has fished it before in previous tournaments. He tried to get on it earlier in the tournament, but there were already boats on it.

“When I first pulled up on it the third day, I threw a worm on it and never had a bite,” Strader says. “Then I tied on a Rattl’n Vibe and went back through there and caught 21-5 in 35 minutes – that’s just crazy.”

Before he hit the mother lode on the shell bed, Strader spent the first day catching bedding fish from holes in the Kissimmee grass with a Zoom Trick Worm and Super Fluke. On day two he switched to an Old School Baits Twin Spin prop bait in the same bedding areas.


Double thumbs up for Stacey King, who earned a top 10 in his first event back form cancer.

4. Stacey King Targets Isolated Pads in Jack’s Slough

Whether it was the 28-pound, 1-ounce limit he caught on the first day, or the 10-pounder he caught on the final day, Stacey King used primarily two lures all week to catch his fish: a Bass Pro Shops Stik-O and Zoom Magnum Ultravibe Speed Worm – both in junebug – tied to 17- and 20-pound-test Bass Pro Shops Signature Series fluorocarbon. He used 1/8- and 3/16-ounce weights when using the Speed Worm.

“I mostly fished isolated pads in the Jack’s Slough area in Kissimmee,” says King, whose four-day total was 67 pounds, 9 ounces. “I used the Mag Speed Worm to fish in between clumps and targeted the actual clumps with the Stik-O. I also fished some shell-bed areas in Toho, but I used the same lures on the shell beds as well.”


Bridgford Foods pro Luke Clausen shows of a Florida stud. He finished fifth and added to his history of success on Toho this week.

5. Luke Clausen Also on the Jack’s Slough Lily Pad Bite

Luke Clausen also spent a lot of time fishing the Jack’s Slough area on Kissimmee. His primary bait was a Z-Man ZinkerZ soft stick bait rigged with a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce weight tied to 16-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line on a Megabass Orochi XX F8-79 rod. Clausen caught 65 pounds, 6 ounces.

“I fished the same area the first two days then just ran new water after that,” he says. “I mostly fished pads for bedding fish, but I caught some at the lock and in current as well. But no matter where I fished, the ZinkerZ with a couple of different size weights on it was really all I fished.”


Stetson Blaylock is perennial contender for the AOY, and he started the year off on the right foot with a top 10.

6. Stetson Blaylock Unlocks Shell Beds, Current Breaks

Stetson Blaylock managed to eschew the whole bed-fishing program this week by focusing on shell beds in Toho and current breaks in the Kissimmee River. His four-day total was 60 pounds, 10 ounces.

“I ran a lot of shallow water in practice looking for spawning fish, but I just never really found the fish set up the way I wanted,” Blaylock says. “So I went to the current to catch keepers, and they turned into better quality fish.”

To fish the shell-bed pattern, Blaylock used a Carolina-rigged watermelon red Yamamoto D-Shad. In the current breaks of the Kissimmee River he switched to a Livingston Lures Primetyme SQ 2.0 square-bill crankbait and a BOSS wobble-head jig teamed with various creature baits in black and blue. His primary line choice for cranking was 12-pound-test Seaguar InvisX for the crankbait and 15-pound-test of the same line for the wobble-head jig.


Bridgford Foods pro Randy Blaukat loads his catch. He earned his 10th career top 10 finish in FLW competition this week.

7. Randy Blaukat Commits to Single Shell Bed

Randy Blaukat staked his claim for the week on the primary shell bed located at the top of Lake Kissimmee where the river pours into the lake. Like others fishing current, Blaukat compounded the consistency of solid limits every day to make the top 10 and finish with 59 pounds, 9 ounces.

“It was a commitment spot,” Blaukat says. “It’s located in one of the busiest places in the whole lake, and if I left it for a second, someone would get on it. So I decided to commit to it for four days to see where I ended up, and it worked out pretty well.”

Blaukat’s key baits in the current were a Megabass Vibration-X, Deep-X 300 and a green pumpkin shaky head. He used a Megabass Orochi XX Launcher rod with 15-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon for the crankbaits and an Orochi drop-shot rod with 8-pound-test Seaguar for the shaky head.


Troy Morrow grins despite not hammering them on the final day of competition.

8. Troy Morrow Also Targets Shell Beds and Current

Troy Morrow stuck to shell beds and current for his top-10 finish as well. The one-two punch involved catching schoolers off a shell bed in Toho with a Heddon Super Spook Jr., Zoom Fluke and Zoom Ol’ Monster and then locking down into the river to fish current with a SPRO Little John DD for upgrades. Morrow weighed 56 pounds, 8 ounces.


Mark Daniels Jr. shows off his

9. Winding, Punching Combo Works for Mark Daniels Jr.

Sophomore pro Mark Daniels Jr. found success in the North Cove area of Kissimmee. Daniels employed a combination of winding baits and punching baits to catch 53 pounds, 12 ounces. The winding arsenal included a junebug Zoom Magum Ultravibe Speed Worm with a 1/8-ounce weight and a Lockjaw Jigs swim jig fished around pads on 20-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. When Daniels moved into punching mode he went with a bruiser flash Missile Baits Missile Craw topped with a 1 1/2-ounce Eco Pro Tungsten weight on 65-pound-test Seaguar Smackdown Tournament Braid.


Ramie Colson Jr. shows off a bass that is a far cry from the massive 11-pounder he caught on day two. Nonetheless, he banked a good check and valuable Angler of the Year points.

10. Ramie Colson Rides 11-Pounder to Top 10

Ramie Colson spent the week fishing primarily one lure – a junebug Zoom Fluke Stick with a 1/8-ounce Reins tungsten weight tied to 16-pound-test Sunline fluorocarbon – in the 27 Palms area of Kissimmee. It was that go-to bait that landed him an 11-pound lunker on day two, which won the Bridgford Big Bass award for the event. His four-day total was 50 pounds, 9 ounces.